Colts all-time sack leader Robert Mathis can add Ring of Honor inductee to his extensive legacy in Indianapolis.
Number 98 finally got his induction ceremony during halftime of the Week 12 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His original ceremony, scheduled for the 2020 season, was postponed due to COVID protocols. Fellow Ring of Honor pass rusher Dwight Freeney bestowed Mathis with his blue jacket onstage with Jim Irsay.
“It’s still surreal. I’m just enjoying being the moment and the homecoming,” said Mathis. “All the friends, the locker room, they all came back to see old 98”.
The five-time Pro Bowler was a key member of the Super Bowl XLI team and holds the franchise record with 129.5 total sacks. His 47 strip sacks are an NFL record.
Mathis spent his 14-season career in Indianapolis after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He owes all of the accolades to the city and the Colts franchise.
“As a grown man, it means everything. As a professional, it means everything because it’s all I’ve ever known,” said Mathis. “I’ve been in one place my whole career, it’s nothing to sneeze at. I’m indebted to the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, and the Colts organization.”
Two Colts on the current roster played with Mathis in the beginning of their careers – T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle. Even though they were not on the same sides of the ball, Doyle felt Mathis was one of his biggest influences early.
“He was such a great mentor from the moment I came in. He took me under his wing,” said Doyle. “Chuck Pagano used to say if you didn’t know something ‘Follow 98, follow that energy'”.
The accolades are still coming for the All-Pro pass-rusher. In his first year of eligibility, Mathis was named one of the 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. The ten finalists will be announced in January.